Canto 44 carries the story on through the times of the Grand Dukes Pietro Leopoldo (reigned 1765-90), and his son Ferdinando III (reigned 1790-9, 1814-24)—the interruption in the latter’s reign being due to Napoleon’s conquest of Italy. The Monte dei Paschi is in the background now, and the attention is on the exemplary rule of the Grand Dukes in Tuscany, with Napoleon figuring as the anti-hero.
David Moody. Ezra Pound: Poet. Volume II: The Epic Years, 1921-1939. 214
“I speak of the(T. J. to J. A. ‘77)
somewhat avaricious in his nature ... crowns lying dead in
his coffers,... application perhaps fromwd. be
prudent to sound well before hand....”
Ezra Pound. Canto XXXIII: ll. 36-40.
But seriously speaking, how many Americans have you met who know that the constructive ideas to which is due the creation of the North American Republic, the United States, were an Italian product? Does one speak at Harvard and in the other great American universities of the Leopoldien Reforms? The Tuscan history of the 18th century is almost completely ignored by the Americans. I say, “almost,” advisedly. Have you met in America a man of politics who does know anything about 16th century Tuscany? Perhaps they have heard somebody speak about some painter or musician, but of the policy, the reforms—I wager—never.
The American is disposed or was disposed to acknowledge theoretically an intellectual debt to France. Perhaps he believes that the American Revolution was due to the French revolution. This is to say that they are ignorant of the dates, also having forgotten that the French Revolution took place a decade after the end of the American revolution. The ideas of Leopoldo were largely experimented with under the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, in Tuscany.
The errors of exaggerations, manifest in the materialization of ideas or ideals, were also known. And his son Ferdinand went about correcting them, aided by the very same counselors who had aided his father. This movement of castigation was interrupted by the French disturbances [...]
Ezra Pound, radio broadcast on 24 May 1943.
CANTO XXXIII [the American view of monarchies before the French Revolution; Napoleon]
CANTO XXXVII [reforming political life and fighting debt: Pietro Leopoldo vs Martin van Buren]
CANTO L [Napoleon and Tuscany in the European context]
Ezra Pound and Dorothy Pound. Canto XXIX. In Shakespear’s Pound: Illuminated Cantos.
Nacogdoches, TX: LaNana Creek Press, [Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing], 1999.
Photo reproduction courtesy of Walter Baumann.